Create a safe place for your students to express their thoughts and feelings about gun violence and school shootings.
Since the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students all over the nation have been seeking answers from lawmakers, parents, teachers, and administrators.
Middle school and high school students plan to take action in a nation-wide walkout protest against gun policies on March 14. This planned walkout is causing educators to consider ways to respond to their student's needs.
How can educators show that they respect and value their students’ freedom of thought and speech all the while ensure their student's safety and well-being?
Creating a safe place on campus for students to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas is one way to tackle the issue. Here are four activities you can set up on your school campus:
1. Host of Moment of Silence “Walkout.”
The Women’s March Youth Empower is asking high school students to “host a walkout." The organization is asking students to sign up on its website. The plan is to walkout of class for 17 minutes (a minute for each life lost) starting at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2018.
Keeping the safety and well-being of your students in mind while still allowing them an opportunity to participate in the walkout, you can ask your schools’ leadership group(s) to help you organize a “Moment of Silence” during the walkout. Gathering your entire school community in a centrally located place that students, teachers, and staff can get to quickly.
Then, at 10:00 AM have your student leaders lead their classmates in a moment of silence for 17 minutes. After the 17 minutes are over your school community can continue with the other activities below in their individual classrooms or as an entire school community.
2. Create a Discussion Wall.
Using large sheets of paper, wrap a centerally located wall with the paper. Write down three to five questions (suggestions below). Ask students to write down their responses to the questions. Allow students access to this Discussion Wall all day. Suggestion - have a couple of school councilors present in case students need to talk about their thoughts or feelings.
3. Give Students an Opportunity to Talk it Out.
Have a classroom discussion or have students draft a letter to lawmakers on where they stand, why they feel strongly about participating in the protest, and their solution to resolving school violence.
4. Focus on Kindness.
Give your school community an opportunity to work together to create a more inclusive environment; by encouraging kindness on campus, you can help students find positive solutions. We have created several blog posts to help you promote kindness - check them out below.
Random Acts of Kindness Generator
Get to Know Your Classmates
Take a Seat & Make a Friend Ball Pit
For some people making new friends can be a bit terrifying. We’ve put together a fun interactive project for students of all ages. Younger students can make posters or simply do a small presentation on flash cards, while older students can utilize technology and create a PowerPoint presentation or iMovie. The sky is the limit.
List of Interview Questions
Watch the magic happen! Our Fun Kindness Project this month will get the whole school talking. We've created 25 Conversation Topics that you can use today!
Here's what to do:
Step 1: Download & Print KindnessConversationTopics.
Step 2: Laminate & cut up the Conversation Topic cards.
Step 3: Place each stack of 25 cards into separate containers.
Step 4: Place Conversation Cards on the tables where students will be sitting for their snack or lunch break.
How it works:
Step 1: Choose a day each week (or month) where you, your teachers, and staff can commit to eating lunch with students.
Step 2: The adult at the table will pick a card from the stack and read it aloud. Then, he or she will ask the students to answer the question, fill in the blank or whatever else the card asks.
Step 3: If there is time, ask a student at the table to pick a different card from the stack. Have him or her read it to the group and invite others to answer the question, fill in the blank or whatever else the card asks.
These Conversation Topics can lead to stronger connections and open the door for deeper conversations in the future. Think of them as icebreakers! We hope you have fun with this activity and we hope it helps you in building a stronger school community through kindness. If you have any questions about our programs, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Webcast Overview & Suggestions
Download Conversation Topics: Kindness
Let us know how your Conversation Topic sessions went!
Here is our first, of many, podcasts! We are very excited to share this with you. This month we are focusing on empathy. In this episode, our founder Justina Bryant talks you through Dr. Riess' E.M.P.A.T.H.Y formula, and she encourages all of us to continue to teach, grow, and develop our empathy skills. We hope you enjoy this episode.
Blog reference link: A Message of Kindness: A Kindness Project about Empathy
We are still working on uploading the program to iTunes. We will keep you posted when our official site is up and running.
Can empathy be taught or is it genetically hard-wired? You may have heard people say; “You either have empathy, or you don’t," “Everyone is born with a certain amount of empathy,” “Girls have more empathy than boys.”
In Dr. Riess’ TEDx talk, she reveals her scientific findings that humans CAN develop greater empathy skills. As an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Riess has administered numerous studies using her E.M.P.A.T.H.Y. formula. Her formula has proven to increase empathy skills among those who use it.
Additionally, Daniel Coyle the author of “The Talent Code" states, a person can change his or her behavior and habits by growing myelin. You "grow" myelin by doing deep practice of a particular skill. Furthermore, in the book “Mindset,” Carol Dweck points out that if we develop a growth mindset, we can change the way we view and do things. In other words, you can teach an old dog new tricks if they have an open mindset.
It is important to continue to practice empathy skills with students of all ages, from pre-school to high school. We’ve put together a fun kindness activity to help you and your students improve your empathy skills.
Step 1: Open with a video
Show your students the age-appropriate video about empathy. We suggest you show the elementary video link to ALL grades K-12 before showing the age-appropriate video. Why? The elementary video is easy to understand.
Step 2: Read stories
Print off all three stories that we adapted from Character Education:
For younger grades, have a parent volunteer or teacher read the stories to the class. For older grades, ask for three student volunteers to read each story to the class. If your classroom has the capability, you could project the stories.
Step 3: Discuss the empathy formula
Write Dr. Riess' empathy formula on the board.
E = eye contact
M = movement
P = posture
A = affect or expressed emotions
T = tone of voice
H = hearing the whole person without judgment
Y = your response
You can do this discussion as a whole group or pair students into smaller groups. Discuss how the empathy formula is unfolding in each of the stories. Ask the students to come up with specific examples from each story. For instance, in the story "Puppies For Sale," the last line - “With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup.”
Step 4: Brainstorm real issues
As a class brainstorm and write out a list of struggles that people might be going through; this can be a family pet that has just passed, a grandparent who is sick, a bad grade in class, someone who is struggling with a particular friendship, being stressed out about an exam, etc.
Step 5: Give a message of kindness
Ask your students (and yourself) to get out a piece of paper. Have them to write down a name of someone they know who has been struggling or maybe just needs a little kindness done for them. Invite your students to write a note or draw a picture for the person they wrote down. Then ask your students to give his or her message of kindness to that person as soon as it is possible.
Share your stories, pictures, and thoughts with us! #ichoose2bekind
Today, most teen bullying happens digitally, on texting apps and social media platforms. If you have a teen who’s the new kid in school, he or she might know this truth all too well. It’s easy for teens to feel alienated after they start school in a whole new place, and other kids can use those nerves as fuel for teasing, harassing, or otherwise bullying your child online.
What is cyberbullying, exactly? For the non-tech-savvy parent, it may be hard to comprehend how abuse online could leave lasting damage on a teen’s psyche. However, hurtful messages, comments, and photographs posted online not only hurt when they’re posted — they can harm your child every time he or she, or someone else, views them. And since most teens have regular access to the internet via smartphones and home computers, abuse that happens online follows them everywhere.
In cyberbullying, social dynamics that are considered typical to middle schools and high schools become amplified. Entire cliques of friends may join up to make a Facebook page mocking a vulnerable teen, and risque photos sent to a crush can become public online. Outside the purview of parents and teachers and with the protection of anonymity, teens are emboldened of behave in ways they wouldn’t in the real world.
If your teen has just started school in a new city, keep an eye out for signs of cyberbullying. Your child will be eager to fit in at this vulnerable time, making him or her less likely to turn to parents when there’s a problem with classmates. Here’s what to look for:
If your teen is being cyberbullied at his or her new school, he or she will need your support getting through it. The first thing to do is help your teen block bullies on various online accounts or delete certain accounts entirely. Depending on the severity of the behavior, you may want to take screenshots as evidence first. If the website or app has a policy that bans harassment, reporting bullying could get the user banned. If the bullying involved sexual behavior, such as sharing explicit photographs, it might be appropriate to report them to the police.
Once the immediate threat has been quelled, it’s time to focus on supporting your teen. You want your teen to feel welcome and safe in his or her new school, but that can’t happen as long as your teen is being intimidated and abused online.
First, emphasize to your child that he or she is not to blame for the bullying. Bullies choose the most vulnerable people to be their targets, and as the new kid at school, your teen was an easy choice. That doesn’t mean your teen can’t make friends and find his or her place in a new community.
Next, alert teachers and administrators to their students’ online activities. While sometimes bullying is limited to the virtual realm, other times cyberbullying is paired with in-person abuse. Ask that trusted school staff monitor for signs that your teen is experiencing bullying at school.
Finally, make sure your home is a safe space for your teen to retreat. The most difficult part of cyberbullying is that you can’t escape it, even at home. Make sure there are plenty of fun things to do at home, so your teen isn’t spending all his or her time online. Connect over shared meals and fun family activities that provide a positive outlet for your child. Turn your child’s room into a relaxing sanctuary with all his or her favorite decorations and books, but keep technology out of the bedroom as much as is reasonable. Encourage your teen to stay in touch with his or her old friends — a support system is crucial when it comes to coping with the emotional challenges of bullying.
Switching schools should be a fun time for your teen — a chance to try on a new identity, make new friends, and expand his or her horizons. The last thing you want is for cyberbullying to tarnish that experience. Keep the conversation open, so you know how your child is adjusting to his or her new home.
Image via Pixaba
Guest Blog Post by Laura Pearson. Laura is the co-creator of Edutude.net. She believes that every student has great potential, and wants to help bright young minds that don’t feel engaged in the traditional classroom setting.
Things Laura Loves Doing:
Reading | Writing | Advocating for Education
Ask Laura About:
Helping students and parents overcome educational obstacles (and she's not bad at trivia!)
Laura's Act of Kindness:
To give somebody the gift of a book that complements their interest and/or personality
You can bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to your school site next year! Simply share the 21 Day Kindness Kickstarter link (http://kck.st/2osw2tw) with your community members and ask them to dedicate the program to your school! Suggestions of people you can send the link to are, a group of local businesses in your area, parents, grandparents, caring community members, sports teams, chamber of commerce, 4-H Chapters, etc.
We want to help schools develop a safe school environment for today's youth. An environment that emphasizes respect for others, promotes responsible decisions, creates a positive atmosphere, develops empathy, strengthens the school community and increases positive behaviors.
The mission of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge is to empower youth to change their world with kindness. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge teaches today’s youth to be effective, caring and proactive leaders. Our vision is to bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge program to 250 schools during the 2017-18 school year – reaching more than 175,000 students and inspiring more than 2.5 million Acts of Kindness!
Check it out & share our Kickstarter Campaign!
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge program encourages and teaches participants how to be intentional about spreading kindness. In our school-wide program, students, teachers, and staff are asked to write down the five acts of kindness they will do each day during their 21 Day Kindness Challenge. When Julissa Arangure, from Shari’s Berries Community Outreach team, contacted us about their Random Acts of Kindness Generator - we knew we had to share it! It is an awesome tool that anyone can use!
The Shari’s Berries Random Acts of Kindness Generator allows you to choose the type of person or place that you would like to carry out your act of kindness. The options are: At Work, To Strangers, With Kids, and Friends/Family. You simply click on the type of person or place option and it generates a random act of kindness suggestion for you. Keep clicking on the type of person or place and the act of kindness changes.
A few of our favorite acts of kindness from the Random Acts of Kindness Generator:
Let us know which acts of kindness you’ve done from Shari’s Berries Random Acts of Kindness Generator. You can post comments and pictures below or on our Facebook page.
Back in 2014, our founder, Justina Bryant, spoke from the heart as she wrote this letter to the editor. Bryant challenged her entire community to come together and teach our youth about values, character, kindness, and acceptance. We hope her words inspire you to reach out to someone in need.
In the wake of the recent suicides of two Aptos High teens and the 15-year-old girl from Los Gatos; it is clear our children are in trouble. Bullying on school campuses is so rampant most of the children don’t even know they are doing it. Our teachers are required to fill their days with strict academic guidelines which in turn leaves little to no time, to teach about character development.
Hello, 21 Day Kindness Challenge Followers and anyone else reading this…
My life’s work is to empower today’s youth to change their world with kindness. I’ve developed a program for grades k-12 called the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. It has been a labor of love for over two years. The program helps school's get ahead of the bullying situation by learning about kindness. The program encourages everyone on campus to intentionally do 5 acts of kindness every day for 21 school days.
Back in 2014, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, about how our youth need our help. In the wake of local teens that had taken their lives, I challenged our community to do what they can to help our youth. I realized that I, too, needed to do something to help. Hence, I created the 21 Day Kindness Challenge.
Today, my heart is saddened yet again as I hear about a new "game" on the app Snapchat. A recent article talks about how young people are using Snapchat to make fun of other people. For those of you who do not know, Snapchat is an app that delivers a quick snapshot of messages - this message can be posted to your story or sent directly to a particular person. When a person posts to their "story" (page), the post stays for 24 hours. Anyone and everyone can see this post. Snapchat’s can also be sent to a person directly. In this case, the post disappears as soon as the person views it. A popular thing to do is to take a screenshot of the chat and re-post.
According to the article, two teens have taken their lives because of this so-called ‘game.' Rachaele Hambleton, a blogger of Part-time Working Mummy in Devon, U.K. commended her daughter for not playing along. Hambelton explains, the game, “consists of sending someone the letter 'X.' That person then sends you back a name of someone you all know... you then write the most horrific things you can think of about that person - about their weight, their appearance, their personality... the more horrid the comments, the better. It then gets posted anonymously, but publicly, upon Snapchat stories for everyone to see and share.”
I would like to challenge the 21 Day Kindness Challenge community to help put a STOP to this Snapchat “game” by spreading kindness via Snapchat. We have created our own "game" that promotes kindness. If you, your students, or kids are on Snapchat, please ask them to play along. See the image below on how to play:
Share this with as many people as you can. Together we can do great things!!
Founder & President of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge, Inc.
My Snapchat Name: justinabryant7
Kindness on Campus
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.